Solaris Transition Guide

Chapter 1 Introduction

The SolarisTM operating environment enhances your system's capabilities with powerful tools and features. This introduction discusses the benefits of migrating to the Solaris operating environment and summarizes the principal differences between SVR4 and the Solaris operating environment.

Advantages of Migrating to the Solaris Operating Environment

The UNIX® standard, SVR4, accommodates the leading UNIX variants (System V, BSD, SunOSTM, and XENIX), uniting the majority of the installed base of UNIX users. The Solaris operating environment, based on SVR4, gives software developers, system administrators, and end users the benefits of a standard operating system including broad compatibility, a growth path, and reduced time to market. It also delivers a functional and powerful product reflecting years of refinement. Among the many advantages the Solaris operating environment provides are portability, scalability, interoperability, and compatibility.

Although the foundation of the Solaris operating environment is based on SVR4, extensive functionality has been added in areas such as symmetric multiprocessing with multithreads, real-time functionality, increased security, and improved system administration.

The Solaris operating environment offers the following features:

Portability, Scalability, Interoperability, and Compatibility

The Solaris operating environment is portable, scalable, interoperable, and compatible.


The SunOS 5.7 product is portable across multiple vendor platforms. Software conforming to an application binary interface (ABI) runs as shrink-wrapped software on all vendor systems with the same microprocessor architecture. This enables application developers to reduce software development costs and bring products to market quickly, and enables users to upgrade hardware while retaining their software applications and minimizing conversion costs.


Over time, applications become more widely used and require more powerful systems to support them. To operate in a growing environment, software must be able to run in a wide power range and must be able to take advantage of the additional processing power. The Solaris operating environment runs on machines of all sizes, from laptops to supercomputers.


Heterogenous computing environments are a reality today. Users purchase systems from many vendors to implement the solutions they need. Standardization and clear interfaces are critical to a heterogeneous environment, enabling users to develop strategies for communicating throughout their network.


Computing technology continues to advance rapidly, but the need to remain competitive requires vendors to minimize their costs and to maximize their investments. As new technology is introduced, there is a need for the existing software investment to be preserved.

Advantages for Large Organizations

The Solaris operating environment provides a number of sound business reasons for transitioning to an industry-standard-based UNIX operating system. Application development and maintenance costs are lower, and application portability is enhanced.

Comparison of SVR4 and the Solaris Operating Environment

This section describes the main differences between SVR4 and the Solaris operating environment. It points out features that the Solaris operating environment includes that are not available in SVR4 and a few SVR4 features that are not available in the Solaris operating environment.

Additional Features in the Solaris Operating Environment

The Solaris operating environment offers value-added components in addition to the SVR4-based operating system. These make computing easier and create new opportunities for users, system administrators, and developers.

In general, the merge of established UNIX variants into SVR4 and the Solaris operating environment was done by consolidating the existing functionality while maintaining compatibility for existing applications. As a result, features and commands were added or withdrawn in some cases.

Features for the User

For users, the Solaris operating environment incorporates a suite of powerful DeskSetTM applications to enhance personal productivity. All DeskSet applications rely on the drag-and-drop metaphor, enabling users to carry out complex UNIX commands with a mouse. Some of the features are:

Features for the System Administrator

For system administrators, the Solaris operating environment offers a variety of new tools to simplify the administration of a distributed computing environment. These include:

Features for the Developer

For application developers, the Solaris operating environment includes a variety of toolkits and features to simplify the development of complex applications with graphical user interfaces.

SVR4 Features Excluded From the Solaris Environment

In a few instances, features in SVR4 were not include in the Solaris operating environment. These features are specific to AT&T hardware, or features included primarily for backward compatibility with SVR3 features and are, therefore, of little value to SunOS users.

The Solaris operating environment does not include the System V file system and associated utilities because of their limitations compared to the UNIX file system. The SVR4 boot file system was not included because of its maintenance burden when compared to the SunOS traditional boot model.

The generic AT&T SVR4 model for device auto-configuration and for rebuilding kernels was replaced with a fully dynamically configurable kernel better suited to the needs of present and future users of SPARC systems.

Because there is no installed base of SPARC XENIX programs, the SPARC release of the Solaris operating environment does not include compatibility for XENIX applications.

The Solaris operating environment does not include the AT&T SVR4 sysadm utility. Because the sysadm menu utility was designed primarily for use with terminal devices on freestanding systems, GUI tools are used instead to simplify administration of distributed systems across a network. The Solaris operating environment provides the utilities and configuration directories that underlie the SVR4 sysadm utility but not the sysadm utility itself.